HOW TO ELOPE IN WASHINGTON STATE

YOUR ULTIMATE GUIDE TO ELOPING IN WASHINGTON

WHY ELOPE IN WASHINGTON

THE SHORT ANSWER? IT HAS EVERYTHING.

And we mean, everything. Lakes, hidden beaches, rugged coastlines, waterfalls, mountains, glaciers, rainforests, wildlife, volcanos, wildflowers . . . and a whole lot more.

It’s the kind of place we recommend to people who don’t mind a little mist or rain on their wedding day, or to people who want to avoid the snow in winter. It’s moody in the spring, and warm in the summer, and (in our well-traveled opinion), the best place to elope in the US.

Need a little more convincing? Here a few other perks of eloping to Washington:

  • Most locations are less than 3-4 hours from the Seattle-Tacoma airport.
  • You can elope here any time of the year.
  • It’s the perfect place for unique transportation options, like a ferry or seaplane ride!
  • You can easily combine your trip with other epic PNW locations, like Oregon or Vancouver Island, Canada.
  • There are loads of options if you don’t want to hike, such as kayaking, boating, camping, driving on 4WD roads, and walking through local city or state parks.

HOW TO ELOPE IN WASHINGTON

  • First, you’ll want to narrow down a date and general location. Often one may influence the other, since some locations (like the North Cascades) aren’t accessible year-round.
  • Next, consider who you’ll want to invite (guests and/or pets, if anyone), as this may also impact where you can elope or the permit process needed. There are far more options if it’s just the two of you, and you can always do a split-day or multi-day experience!
  • Connect with a local WA elopement photographer and/or planner, who can guide you through the planning process, provide location suggestions, and help make your dream wedding day a reality.
  • Then you’ll finalize the details, like your day-of timeline, other vendors, lodging, transportation, and more. It’s best if you can be really intentional about how you opt to spend your day, with no regrets even years down the road.
  • Celebrate your best day, feeling completely at peace and connected with your partner, cherishing all the moments without the traditional “wedding day blur.”

WHERE TO ELOPE IN WASHINGTON

There are literally dozens of amazing places to elope in Washington, but we’ve added our favorite picks below. And if you work with us for photo and/or video, you’ll get access to our custom location planning process to find the best fit for you!

1. Olympic National Park

Of all national parks in the US, Olympic NP is quite possibly the most biodiverse, since it covers a variety of landscapes from the coast all the way up to the peaks of the Olympic mountain range. It’s one of the only places you can elope and be able to explore the beach, lush rainforests, waterfalls, lakes and mountaintops all in one region.

Like most other national parks, you will need a special use permit to elope here if you have 5 or more people (including vendors).

cascades elopement photographer

2. The North Cascades

For some of the most dramatic mountain views in the state, your best option is North Cascades National Park and the surrounding areas, like Artist Point. These mountains are less than three hours from Seattle, but feel like a world away. Rocky cliffs, jagged peaks, and over 300 glaciers make this place feel truly impressive.

Ideally, you’ll want your wedding date in this area to be between July and early October for the best weather, since most of it is not easily accessible the rest of the year.

mt rainier elopement locations washington

3. Mount Rainier National Park

If you’re looking for a scenic location within a few hours to Seattle for an epic mountain elopement, Mount Rainier is likely going to be at the top of your list.

This 14,400+ foot peak is one of the most popular areas in the state, so a weekday elopement here is best. Some of our favorite things to see at this location include wildflowers and waterfalls during the summer, and plenty of snow sports in the winter. Our personal favorite season here is early-mid autumn, since you have far fewer crowds than summer, and still plenty of trails accessible before the winter storms blow in.

san juan islands washington

4. San Juan Islands

For something off the beaten path, the San Juan Islands are truly a gem in Washington.

Between some of the best island towns in the state, a handful of beautiful state parks, and a lot fewer crowds than other touristy areas, this might just be the perfect place for your coastal and water-centric elopement day.

Take a ferry or a private boat ride to several of the islands by water. Or you can even take a seaplane ride with a company like Kenmore Air from Seattle to Friday Harbor, to make it one truly unforgettable experience!

5. Washington State Parks

Washington’s three national parks often get all the attention for elopement days, but we truly love the state park system here just as much!

Between dozens of easy-to-access trails (even in mid-winter!), plenty of waterfront views, and even reservable spaces for elopements and small weddings with guests, there’s a lot to love about these parks.

A few of our favorites include: Cape Disappointment, Deception Pass, Fort Ebey, and Camano Island. Check out our WA State Park Elopement Guide for more info.

seattle elopement photographer

6. Seattle

You don’t even have to leave the city for some truly beautiful elopement location options!

Seattle has some scenic parks that make for great elopement spots in the city, like the Washington Park Arboretum, or you can opt for an urban adventure on the water by taking one of the public ferries out to an island like Bainbridge.

Check out our Seattle Elopement Guide for more ideas!

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK vs MOUNT RAINIER vs NORTH CASCADES

Torn about which location might be the best fit for you in Washington? We’ve dropped some of the top similarities and differences in three of Washington’s most popular elopement locations below to help you!

OLYMPIC

  • Wide variety of scenery, including beach/coastlines, rainforest, lakes, waterfalls, and mountain views
  • No permit required for “just-us-two” elopements
  • Snow-free options available year-round
  • Great for water-centric elopement activities, like kayaking or hiking to waterfalls
  • 3-4+ hours from Seattle
  • Fewer visitors than Mount Rainier NP, but more visitors than North Cascades

RAINIER

  • A variety of scenery, including lakes, waterfalls, forest, wildflowers, and mountain views
  • Permits required for all elopements of any size
  • Best for elopements in late June – early Oct
  • Great for hiking-focused elopement days
  • 2+ hours from Seattle
  • Beautiful fall colors in Sep/Oct
  • Extremely busy in summer, especially on weekends (timed entry now required for Paradise + Sunrise corridors)

NORTH CASCADES

  • Limited variety of scenery, including lakes, forest, wildflowers, and mountain views
  • Required permits depend on group size and location
  • Best for elopements in early July – early Oct
  • Great for hiking-focused elopement days
  • 3+ hours from Seattle
  • Beautiful fall colors in Sep/Oct
  • Very busy in summer, especially on weekends, but sometimes less busy than Olympic and Rainier

WHERE TO ELOPE IN WA WITH GUESTS

While your options are nearly wide open when you choose a “just us” elopement day, a group of more than about 10 people will be more limiting in where you can go for your ceremony. If you plan to bring guests along, we recommend checking out the following options to have a space suited for your group size:

HOW TO PICK YOUR ELOPEMENT LOCATION

  • We always recommend taking some time to truly envision what scenery you want around you. Is there a lake surrounded by misty mountains? Are there waves crashing on the shoreline nearby? Is it a cloudy or snowy day, or are you dreaming of a warmer, colorful day?
  • Consider meaningful or sentimental options, such as where you went on your first roadtrip or paddling trip together, or a place your family visited often in your childhood. Or even opt for a location that’s been on both of your bucket lists, and explore it for the first time together on your wedding day!
  • Choose a season/month. Washington can be rainy any time of year, but if you want warmer weather and less rain, mid-June through September will be your best bet. Places like Artist Point and Mt. Rainier are still covered in snow well into June, while others like Olympic NP have snow-free options year-round. And if you want to avoid crowds on your elopement day, stick to non-holiday weekdays and off-season dates.
  • Brainstorm activities you’d like to do together. If you want to kayak, that narrows down to lakes and shoreline options like Puget Sound. If you want lots of amenities, like a nice restaurant or breweries/distilleries, being close to certain areas would be better for you. And don’t rule out a two-day option to fit it all in without feeling rushed!
  • Consider how many guests (if any) you want to bring. This will impact whether you’ll need permits, how far in advance you’ll need to schedule a date, as well as your budget, since the more people you have, the higher the costs can be.

HOW TO APPLY FOR A MARRIAGE LICENSE IN WASHINGTON STATE

Whether you’re local to Washington or flying in from out of state, obtaining a marriage license here is pretty easy:

1. Washington state law requires a 3-day waiting period after your license fee is paid, and the license is valid for 60 days.
2. Both applicants must be unmarried, at least 18 years old, and present a current photo ID. Applications require a $69 fee to be filed.
3. You can purchase a marriage license from any county in Washington to get married anywhere in the state.
4. The marriage license requires the couple, an officiant, and two witnesses to sign the document. Some elopement photographers (like us!) are ordained and can sign as your officiant, and many of our couples ask other vendors or visitors out on the trails to sign as witnesses.

All details and information for marriage licenses can be found on the King County Recorders office website here.

HEY THERE, I’M KAITLYN

Your Washington photographer, videographer + planning assistant

An introvert at heart, I always value real connection, stories, and conversation over surface-level interaction any day of the week.

Having documented over 150 weddings and elopements on camera over the last decade, I’ve realized that I have a knack for being the calm, welcoming, and intuitive energy couples didn’t even realize they needed.

So, I invite you to think about what it would feel like to be fully present, unapologetically yourselves, and care-free on your wedding day instead of worrying about what everyone else wants. And take comfort in knowing you have my full support, every step of the way.

Ready to chat?